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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Pecan Processor Enhances Safety With Metal Detector

September 24, 2010 9:43 am | Articles | Comments

Although wild pecans were well-known among the colonial Americans as a delicacy, the commercial growing of pecans in the United States did not begin until the 1880s. Today, the United States produces between 80 and 95 percent of the world's pecans, with an annual crop of 150,000 to 200,000 tons.  Historically, the leading pecan-producing state in the country has been Georgia, followed by Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Volvo Gets Two For The Price Of One

September 24, 2010 4:57 am | Articles | Comments

120-position tool carriage holds various HSK63 and HSK100 tooling. By using a  Zimmermann  FZ42 portal milling center, Volvo gets the power and torque needed to cut engine fan cases plus the accuracy to turn the machine tool into a coordinate measuring machine for inspection of finished parts.

Maintenance Considerations For Condensate Removal From Compressed Air Systems

September 23, 2010 10:27 am | by Lester V. Ottinger, President/CEO, Drain-All, Inc. | Articles | Comments

There is a critical, ongoing need to reduce maintenance costs, especially considering companies are being attacked by global competition and such savings go straight to the bottom line. One way to reduce costs is to conduct a survey of the condensate removal approach for your compressed air system.

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Quitting Technology Cold Turkey

September 22, 2010 12:10 pm | Videos | Comments

One way to address and overcome one's insatiable need and overreliance on technology is to put down the connecting devices and take a break from them. But New York comedian Mark Malkoff took this idea to the extreme when he quit technology — cold turkey — for five days and quarantined himself in his apartment bathroom to prevent a tech relapse.

Building The 1,000-Horsepower Car

September 22, 2010 12:03 pm | Videos | Comments

The Bugatti Veyron carries a certain weight among car enthusiasts. Just the name is suggestive of raw power and incredible speed. It should come as no surprise that a multi-million-dollar car is built by hand, in an equally expensive-looking manufacturing facility. If you're having trouble watching this video, try downloading the latest version of Flash Player or contacting your IT department.

Was Neglect To Blame For Gas Pipeline Explosion?

September 22, 2010 12:01 pm | Videos | Comments

By now, we've all heard about the tragedy in San Bruno, CA, where a large natural gas pipeline exploded. Seven have died, and dozens of homes were damaged, some irreparably. Recently, a number of people have come out and accused the pipeline's owner, PG&E, of neglecting regular maintenance. Was there more the utility company could have done to prevent the explosion? If you're having trouble watching this video, try downloading the latest version of Flash Player or contacting your IT department.

Boeing Soars Into Private Space Industry

September 22, 2010 11:59 am | Videos | Comments

Boeing has decided to throw their multi-billion and international hat into the private space travel market with a number of R&D efforts, and it’s bound to make a few of the smaller companies quiver in their boots, or booster rockets. While experts say Boeing's efforts could be available come 2015, we know that actually means more like 2018 or 2019.

Locals Blame Oil For Massive Gulf Fish Kill

September 22, 2010 11:57 am | Videos | Comments

Countless Gulf fish were found dead in a Louisiana bayou, and locals fear oil is to blame. While more testing is required to confirm the cause of death, it's entirely plausible that an underwater oil plume could cause this sort of environmental damage. If you're having trouble watching this video, try downloading the latest version of Flash Player or contacting your IT department.

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Performance With Intelligent Safety System Design

September 20, 2010 11:00 am | by George Schuster - CFSE, Senior Industry Consultant, Safety and Sustainability Solutions - Rockwell Automation | Articles | Comments

Ask any production line manager about the importance of safety and they will likely tell you about the critical role it plays in helping to protect personnel, reduce injuries, and meet compliance demands. These are all valid objectives, but manufacturers and machine builders are missing opportunities if they only focus on avoiding negative consequences rather than striving for greater performance — e.

ERP: An Excellent Strategic Weapon 

September 17, 2010 7:51 am | by Cindy Jutras, Vice-President, Research Fellow & Group Director, Aberdeen Group | Articles | Comments

As optimism increases for a worldwide economic recovery, small to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) once again look forward to revenue growth. As a result, SMEs must seek competitive advantages that enable them to contain costs to ensure that growth of revenues is not at the expense of profits. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can indeed be a strategic weapon.

Designing A Dry Material Feeder

September 16, 2010 5:09 am | by Chad M. Lorensen, Pharmaceutical Industry Business Development Manager, Andreas Ludwig, Mechanical Engineering Manager, Schenck AccuRate Inc. | Articles | Comments

Metering dry powders in the pharmaceutical industry is not a new idea. Several common applications have been utilizing gravimetric and volumetric dry material feeders for many years. Until recently, these feeders were customized versions of industrial or food grade equipment or one-off type machines engineered for a specific application.

The Majestic Plastic Bag

September 15, 2010 7:07 am | Videos | Comments

From the open plains of the asphalt jungle, the clever and illustrious plastic bag faces numerous challenges on its migration to the Pacific Ocean. If you're having trouble watching this video, try downloading the latest version of Flash Player or contacting your IT department. Have any comments or questions about our Thursday video editions of IMPO Insider? Or do you have a video you'd like to see featured in one of our deployments? Email me at Joel.

Tinkerers Build A Better Lunar Lander

September 15, 2010 7:05 am | Videos | Comments

Tech Shop, in Menlo Park, CA, provides prospective tinkerers with all the tools they could need to make their inventions come to life — everything from sandblasters to welding equipment. And while some members are there to entertain themselves and build something small, others have big dreams.

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U.S. Manufacturers Can Compete

September 15, 2010 7:01 am | Videos | Comments

Rajan Suri, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of industrial and systems engineering, has a strategy that could keep manufacturers strong in the downtrodden economy: quick response manufacturing. QRM can allow manufacturers to reduce lead times, cut inventory, and increase profitability.

Extreme Maintenance At 1,700 Feet

September 15, 2010 7:00 am | Videos | Comments

After watching this video, you might take that free over-the-air TV or morning radio show a little less for granted. The 1,700-foot towers that broadcast those signals need occasional maintenance, just like any other piece of machinery. That means a brave soul — like the men in the video below — have to make the treacherous journey.

Implementing On-the-Fly Motor Phasing

September 14, 2010 4:03 am | by Siemens Industry, Drive Technologies & Motion Control | Articles | Comments

Located in Glen Carbon, Ill., near St. Louis, FASTechnology Group (FASTech) is an industrial controls system integration and manufacturing company that specializes in turnkey automation systems.  Siemens Simotion package combines motion control, drive control, and logic control. With its core expertise in the commercial printing industry, FASTech is often called upon to affect changes in the control architecture and drive mechanics on the very largest printing and bindery equipment in the industry.

Formulating Your Energy Master Plan

September 10, 2010 11:12 am | by Jerry Cater, Senior Associate, LEED AP BD+C and Zach Platsis, LEED AP O+M and Energy Specialist, SSOE Group's Sustainable and Renewable Solutions | Articles | Comments

Not too long ago, making decisions about a company’s energy management and sustainability was a fairly uncomplicated process for most facility managers. Switching to fluorescent lighting, replacing the HVAC to a more efficient system or upgrading to a more integrated process controls architecture to streamline production.

Embrace Process Signature Technology 

September 9, 2010 6:01 am | Articles | Comments

Quality issues cost companies billions of dollars each year, negatively impact brand reputations and damage customer loyalty. Competitive pressures in a global marketplace are making it both more urgent and more difficult to deal with these very real threats to core business success. In automotive manufacturing, and in highly regulated industries such as medical manufacturing, lives are at stake.

Fish With 'Six-Packs'

September 8, 2010 9:52 am | Videos | Comments

A ten-year effort by University of Rhode Island scientist Terry Bradley to develop transgenic rainbow trout with enhanced muscle growth has yielded fish with “six-packs” and muscular shoulders. This development could ultimately provide a boost to the aquaculture industry. If you're having trouble watching this video, try downloading the latest version of Flash Player or contacting your IT department.

Payroll Tax Break — A Good Idea? 

September 8, 2010 9:22 am | Videos | Comments

The heads of the AFL-CIO and the National Small Business Association join CNN to discuss a number of the economic policies that have been bouncing around the White House lately. While there are controversies around some of the specifics, both leaders agree: less payroll taxes on small business would mean more jobs.

The Electric Car Land Speed Record

September 8, 2010 9:21 am | Videos | Comments

The "Buckeye Bullet," built by students and engineers at the Ohio State University, has beaten the world land speed record for an electric car, topping 307 mph in a recent test. So why is Ohio State spending all this time and money on an electric car that goes 307 mph? Dr. Georgia Rizzoni, the director for automotive research at Ohio State, thinks of this project as no different from the countless other bright minds who first pushed the gasoline engine to its limits many decades ago.

The 'Beach Bot' Saves Lives

September 8, 2010 9:20 am | Videos | Comments

This "beach bot" device allows lifeguards to reach distressed swimmers faster, which could mean the difference between life and death. While the robot is still in a prototype stage, it could be outfitted with a number of accessories to tailor it to specific environments, including the military.

Automating The Bottom Line

September 7, 2010 9:28 am | Articles | Comments

Manufacturers should always be looking for ways to improve processes, and accomplishing that task should be a focus shared by every member of the enterprise. Metcam is a manufacturing company located in Alpharetta, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. Founded in 1989, the company specializes in custom sheet metal fabrication serving a diverse industry base including commercial HVAC, healthcare, electronics, automotive, food service, and air filtration.

Food AND Fuel

September 2, 2010 9:50 am | by Luke Simpson, Associate Editor, Chem.Info | Articles | Comments

A lot of great ideas are developed by imagining a magical black box through which you can process an input to produce a desired output. For example, what if you could take an ear of corn, feed it into a device and get food, fuel and fertilizer out of the other side? This was the challenge given to SynGest engineers when the company set out to produce a system that efficiently utilizes all parts of the corn crop.

The Plastic-To-Oil Converter

September 1, 2010 9:49 am | Articles | Comments

Saddened by the damage plastics have incurred on the environment, one Japanese entrepreneur has developed a new machine that is capable of converting a variety of plastics right back into oil. This helps keep recycling costs down, and essentially creates another "home-grown" source of oil that could be used as gasoline in our nation's cars.

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